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Early settlers laid groundwork for residential subdivisions

This 1908 subdivision plat map shows John B. Shepherd’s house, on Shepherd Place, and the land across the street on St. Mary’s Avenue, which he purchased and deeded to his children.


Two horses galloping south on St. Mary’s Avenue, just past the intersection with Bird, pulling behind them a heavy commercial wagon, bouncing and bounding uncontrollably along the dirt-and-stone pavement.

Eyewitnesses experienced the blurring of motion and pounding of hooves and knowingly feared impending doom.

The team, owned by Will S. Hall, proprietor of the Sunny Slope nursery along Central Avenue, was startled somewhere near the north end of the Avenue where it joined with the Paris to Hannibal road. The horses proceeded full-speed ahead southbound, to where Hubbard and Hill streets intersect with St. Mary’s.

The hour was a half past six in the evening of May 24, 1906.

The unfolding scenario would leave townsfolk talking for quite some time to come. The phone lines were kept active as people sought news of the scenario which followed.

At the same time the horses were racing along St. Mary’s Avenue, Mr. and Mrs. John B. Shepherd were riding in their one-horse buggy, traveling in the opposite direction, from downtown to their home on Shepherd Drive. There was still plenty of daylight available for clear sight, yet their vision was blocked by a curve in the road. Before they even realized what was coming their way, the racing team of horses and bounding wagon were on top of them, reducing their wagon to splintered kindling, and tossing them to the ground, to be trampled and trapped by the their own fallen horse as well as the two others.

Neighbors came out of their homes to assist. One man – John Mainland – was living (as far as could be calculated) opposite what is now the triangular building that serves as Jason Utterback’s insurance office. Mr. Mainland helped Mr. Shepherd into his own home, and messaged for assistance for Mrs. Shepherd. Drs. E.H. Bounds, W.C. Guss, P.L. Kabler and W.H. Hays responded to the scene.

An ambulance took Mrs. Shepherd to Levering Hospital. Mr. Mainland – superintendent of the Hannibal Street Railway Company - arranged for a streetcar to take Mr. Shepherd to the hospital as well.

The worst was feared. The Quincy Daily Journal of May 24, 1906, described the horrific scene:

“Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd were thrown violently under the horses and in the collision all three of the horses fell, Mrs. Shepherd being under them and being badly trampled and rendered unconscious.

“It was one of the most exciting runaways that ever occurred in Hannibal and it is said that there is hardly a piece of the buggy left. Every spoke in the wheels were broken.”

Mr. Shepherd, aged 65, experienced seven or eight broken ribs, a collapsed chest cavity, and head wounds.

Their fate was unquestionably in peril. While hospitalized, Mr. Shepherd developed pneumonia in both lungs. A doctor from St. Louis was summoned. Mrs. Shepherd, while more seriously injured, slowly regained consciousness.

Fortunately, they both survived.

Civil War soldier

John B. Shepherd, a native of Gano Station, Ohio, served under Gen. U.S. Grant during the Civil War, and was wounded at Tupelo, Miss. Immediately after the war, he came to Hannibal, where his older brother, Tylee Shepherd, was already established.

Together, the brothers opened a grain and feed store, located on Third St., between Broadway and Center. They named their business Shepherd and Bro.

In March 1867, John Shepherd took as his wife Josephine Leighton, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. At the beginning of the next decade, he and his brother converted into a wholesale grocery business, operating from 104-106 Fourth St., which is the site of the current Hannibal City Hall.

Within the decade of the 1870s, the Shepherd brothers ended their partnership, but both continued on in the business world.

John Shepherd was associated with at least two others in the wholesale grocery business, while Tylee Shepherd operated a commission and storage business at 112 and 114 Hill.

From then on, John Shepherd considered himself a capitalist, and was a primary in the Carter and Shepherd mill in Hannibal, with which he would maintain a 30-year relationship.

In addition, he invested in real estate and agriculture. In 1881, he owned 200 acres in the Sny bottoms in Marion County, located north of Hannibal. He and his brother Tylee were also owners of prime development acreage located along the St. Mary’s corridor.

Tylee Shepherd purchased Lot 4 in the Hubbard’s Subdivision, which had been platted in 1871, bounded to the north by what is now known as Earl Street, proceeding south on St. Mary’s Ave., past the intersection with Hubbard Street to a point believed to be the intersection with Hill Street. In 1891, Tylee Shepherd had this land (on the west side of St. Mary’s Ave.) divided into 13 lots, and named the development Tylee Shepherd’s Sub-Division.

Meanwhile, his younger brother had been busy developing land to the east of the Avenue.

John B. Shepherd

The house that still stands at 115 Shepherd Place was built in 1875 and served as home to John B. Shepherd and his family until his death in 1916.

In 1902, he created quite a local sensation when he purchased an electric automobile. The cost, delivered to Hannibal, was $1,000, according to the Quincy on July 9, the same year.

Tylee Shepherd dies

Tylee Shepherd died in 1898. In 1908, John B. Shepherd entered into a series of land transfers, deeding unsold lots in Tylee Shepherd’s subdivision to his own children.

Two years later, John B. Shepherd’s youngest daughter, Sarah P. Shepherd, was united in marriage to Hal H. Hogan.

The Quincy Daily Journal of Aug. 11, 1910, reported:

“On the beautiful lawn at the home of the bride’s parents on St. Mary’s Avenue, just as the twilight shadows began to lengthen, the wedding of Miss Sarah Preston Shepherd and Hal Helm Logan was solemnized.

“Promptly at 7:15 the opera house orchestra, which was stationed in the vine clad summer house, began playing the wedding march and the bridal party moved from the residence to that point.”

Final call

John B. Shepherd died in August 1916 at his home. He was 75. Both Tylee and John, along with their wives, are buried at Riverside Cemetery south of Hannibal, along Mo. 79.

The historic John B. Shepherd house, facing St. Mary’s Avenue, with an address of 115 Shepherd Place, is believed to have been built in 1875. Mr. Shepherd and his family lived in this house until his death in 1916. His daughter, Sarah, was married on the lawn in 1910. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

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